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Restaurant with good atmosphere for celebratory dinner with advisor/mentor?

lackadaisy May 8, 2011 04:44 PM

Hi guys,

I'm looking for a celebratory mid-to-high-price dinner spot with my thesis advisor -- someone I've known for a while, but primarily in a professional capacity. As I'm graduating, we're at the awkward transition stage to a mentor/friend relationship, so I don't want to pick a terrible place that sends the wrong signals. I would also want to spend under $150. An enjoyable, interesting atmosphere (but not too loud, not too silent, and definitely not romantic) also seems important.

Besides all those worries about how to pick a restaurant that works for this dinner, I almost never spend that much on food and would love to get my money's worth. Any suggestions for classy, vegetarian/vegan-friendly, awesome-atmosphere restaurants that are also incredibly delicious and worth the major cash I'm about to spend?

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  1. opinionatedchef RE: lackadaisy May 8, 2011 05:08 PM

    What a lovely gesture you are making.That price point is usually ours when we eat out-max $120 plus tip. My suggestions:


    Erbaluce(don't know about vegan/veggie here)

    Ten Tables

    The Independent(maybe too casual/ tavern)


    here's my recent review of Oleana(terrific for vegan/veggie):


    p.s. i don't consider any of these to be awesome atmosphere, but we may differ on that.

    134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

    EVOO Restaurant
    350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

    Ten Tables
    597 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

    Ten Tables
    5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

    The Independent
    75 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143

    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

    3 Replies
    1. re: opinionatedchef
      hckybg RE: opinionatedchef May 8, 2011 05:47 PM

      These are very nice suggestions in terms of food but I would classify several as intimate. I know not everyone feels Erbaluce's interior is very warm, but I still found the scale and vibe to still be pretty quiet, if not romantic. I think Oleana is romantic, and perhaps Ten Tables in Harvard Square too.

      East Coast Grill has a more boisterous atmosphere but still very solid food and is fun. I sat next to a table of eminent scholars at Tamarind Bay the other night; the food there is great. East by Northeast is also fun and great tasting but buzzy enough that it wouldn't feel like a date. Bergamot also has a big enough scale that it wouldn't feel too romantic but is outstanding.

      East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
      1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

      Tamarind Bay
      75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

      East by Northeast
      1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

      1. re: hckybg
        opinionatedchef RE: hckybg May 8, 2011 11:29 PM

        wow, couldn't disagree with you more about oleana. Romantic? that descriptor would never cross my mind there. no candles; tables very close together so no chance for intimacy. I saw a number of neighboring tables w/ professionals having business and friends dinners. ECG is wicked loud isn't it? if not, i might recommend it if the dinner menu is vegan/veggie friendly and if OP wants as casual a place as that. North by Northeast is great food but because they're all small plates-intended-to-be-shared>> that seemed maybe more intimate than the OP would like.Ten Tables Harv Sq. we tried 2 wks ago and while small, we saw alot of Harvard etc related dinners going on. Maybe the JP Ten Tables is less 'romantic' if at all?

        Personaly, i think Oleana really fits the bill, esp being such a great vegan/veggie menu.

        134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

        Ten Tables
        5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

        1. re: opinionatedchef
          hckybg RE: opinionatedchef May 9, 2011 01:59 PM

          I think it's more that Oleana is dimly lit that struck me, I certainly agree that the food is tremendous. I don't find ECG to be excessively loud--it is definitely boisterous in atmosphere but the overall noise level isn't offensive (maybe you are just thinking of the crazy light fixtures :).

    2. p
      pollystyrene RE: lackadaisy May 8, 2011 08:05 PM

      Hamersley's, Eastern Standard and Rendezvous all have a celebratory feel without being too loud to talk, and are all big enough not to give a romantic vibe. The food is reliably very good at all three also.

      Eastern Standard
      528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

      2 Replies
      1. re: pollystyrene
        Angel Food RE: pollystyrene May 9, 2011 10:19 AM

        Hamersley's was my first thought, too.

        1. re: pollystyrene
          yumyum RE: pollystyrene May 9, 2011 10:40 AM

          When I think of taking out a Professor / Mentor, the first place that comes to mind is Rendezvous, maybe because that's the way the crowd typically looks to me. They do nice things with veggies, but I'm not sure about the Vegan request.

        2. greenzebra RE: lackadaisy May 9, 2011 10:15 AM

          Vegan friendly is a lot harder than vegetarian friendly. Bergamot, EVOO, and Rendezvous all have great food and I think the kind of atmosphere you are looking for, but while they are vegetarian-friendly I think a vegan would have a very hard time (although if you called a head it is possible that they could accommodate a vegan). Erbaluce I think is rather quiet, although I love the food. Definitely vegetarian friendly, but again vegan might be difficult. Another option to consider is T. W. Food, which I think has some of the best food of any of the options so far suggested, although it will come the closest to hitting your $150 budget. I think the atmosphere would work well for you, not too noisy but has enough of a buzz to feel lively. Again, easy for vegetarians but very tough for vegans.

          I find Ten Tables, especially the Harvard location which is dimly lit and fairly small, to be rather romantic. But the food is great, the price range is what you are looking for, and they can do a vegan tasting menu with 24 hours notice. East Coast Grill has a fun atmosphere, on the loud side but not overbearingly so IMO, and they can accommodate vegans easily (the vegetarian entree at ECG is a big plate of mixed vegetables, which is way better than it sounds - my wife is a vegetarian and she orders this all the time and loves it - and they can easily make this vegan). Other places that are explicitly vegan-friendly and have lively but not romantic or overly loud atmospheres include: Elephant Walk and Posto (can be on the loud side).

          1. n
            newhound RE: lackadaisy May 9, 2011 11:09 AM

            Aren't you required, by law, to go to Harvest for special academic dinners? In all seriousness, it might fit the bill.

            1 Reply
            1. re: newhound
              yumyum RE: newhound May 9, 2011 11:12 AM

              I thought about Harvest too, but isn't it really very tweedy and spendy?

            2. Bob Dobalina RE: lackadaisy May 9, 2011 11:15 AM

              Can I recommend True Bistro in Teele? It is all vegan, not particularly romantic although I suppose it could be taken as such - tables are close together - vegan food was very good for this omnivore.

              Also second Oleana, chow-wise, but the garden seating is probably the most romantic setting in the area, to me anyway. One way to get around this - bring a third person! Are there other people who graduated for whom this professor was acting as thesis advisor, etc.?

              1. barleywino RE: lackadaisy May 9, 2011 01:19 PM

                side-by-side seats at the chefs counter at Craigie. in this seating configuration, and with all the bustle of chefs cooking, plating and talking in front of you, it's definitely not romantic, yet interesting. plus you get to see everything that comes out of the kitchen, and how it got that way. Start with a flight of 3 mini-cocktails, then you can toast your advisor 3x. An alternative would be side-by-side seats at the mozzarella bar at Scampo, with a similar view of food prep (although Scampo can get very loud, unless you go early perhaps.)

                1 Reply
                1. re: barleywino
                  alohagirl RE: barleywino May 10, 2011 07:55 PM

                  I agree, this is a very classy gesture, and will be appreciated by your advisor. I think Rendezvous is your best bet -- good food, not too small or dark, kind of modern, not too quiet or loud. And they can accommodate vegetarian/vegan requests. Good desserts, as well. Be sure to let us know what you choose and how it goes. Hats off to you!

                2. l
                  lackadaisy RE: lackadaisy May 10, 2011 08:07 PM

                  Thanks everyone for the ideas! I've just sent him an email with your suggestions and asked if there were any he had heard good things about, or wanted to avoid; matching a reservation to our schedules may be difficult, so I'll just be making a lot of calls tomorrow and hopefully one of them will have space for us on Thursday night. Looking forward to letting you all know how it goes :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lackadaisy
                    opinionatedchef RE: lackadaisy May 11, 2011 07:06 AM

                    daisy, do you know about www.opentable.com? it's a reservation system-online- that could save you lots of time. you will need to sign up. it's free. particularly helpful when you want to make reservations and the restnt (i,e, dinner only) isn't open to take reservations.

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